Before applying to B-school, I was told by many students how miserable their lives were because they were so busy and slept so little. Is it true? Let’s find out … here’s an agenda of one of my typical days:

7:30 AM. Head to school. I don’t like getting up before 7, but it makes the day longer and more productive. 4.4 miles (7 km) driving costs me only 8 minutes — the traffic here is much better than in a big city.

8:00 AM. Marketing core class. Grab a cup of coffee from Fox Center during the break. Today’s case is about the management of a leading European soccer club. I had no idea about the sports industry before B-school, but after some educational events hosted by the Media, Entertainment, and Sports Club and the class discussion, I now understand some key concepts and profit centers in a sports club. Though I’ll never manage a sports club, it fulfills my curiosity and broadens my perspectives in the business world.

10:30 AM. Leadership Communication class. It’s time for my team to deliver a 45-minute presentation on our analysis of an online retail industry. We presented about the industry fundamentals, the macroeconomic environment, and several key industry trends. As we expected, our team got lots of challenges from classmates who acted as “board members,” and we addressed their concerns collectively. Overall, each one of us improved a lot in our presentation structure, transition and delivery since the start of the course, thanks to several informational and advocacy presentation practices and impromptu exercises. We even recorded our presentations — nobody likes watching a video of themselves, but it helped us to improve our presentation skills. I like hearing sincere feedback from instructors and peers, and I also learned a lot from classmates’ presentation styles and best practices.

A picture of a stack of Fuqua coursepacks

I cannot believe I’ve finished so many readings and course packs! And there are more to come …

12:45 PM. International Students in Marketing panel. Sandwich provided. The Marketing Club invited 5 second-years who worked in marketing in various industries during the summer to share their internship experiences and answer first-years’ questions. Every professional club has an international team, which provides some resources to other international students.

1:30 PM. Strategy class. A principal from Bain is a guest speaker today, and introduces a real case in the auto parts distribution industry. Student teams discussed the situation, implications and recommendations based on tons of raw data. Later, we heard brilliant ideas from other teams, and had lots of fun acting out the dynamic communication that may happen between “CEO” and “consultants.” The “consultants” were challenged on the huge amount of investments on the new strategy, and this is exactly what we would face in real life. Finally, the guest speaker shared Bain’s actual findings, recommendations and the implementation results that really happened — it was enlightening. It’s great to connect our learning to reality, to avoid thinking of wild and unfeasible ideas.

4:00 PM. Team meeting. We worked on an assignment to propose the price of a new drug for a pharmaceutical company. I don’t have any knowledge in healthcare, but I’m interested in understanding the key players on the value chain. We had all 6 team members in the meeting — not easy to achieve when everyone has a packed schedule. After many discussions and calculations, we agreed on a number for the drug price.

5:30 PM. Net Impact Club cabinet meeting. After each team’s update, we brainstormed about fundraising events for the summer internship fund, which is provided to classmates in the non-profit sector. It sounds like we’ll have lots of fun in the Spring!

6:30 PM. Read 20 emails on my cellphone. Had a call with an alumna, my mentor of AWIB (Association of Women in Business). She shared her experiences from a career switch from an engineer to a marketer and her post-MBA career progression. Reflecting back, her most valuable takeaway from the program is the breadth of the knowledge structure, which built a solid foundation for long-term career development. I also got practical advice in elective choices and time management.

7:30 PM. Corporate Education in Global Marketing. Alumni from a leading consumer packaged goods company shared a successful real case, a global marketing campaign of the 100th birthday of a cookie brand in 2012, and the learnings from it. This is just one example of many events where I learned marketing strategies from top global brands. My favorite parts are digital marketing strategy and the video of marketing campaigns — full of excitement and fun.

9:00 PM. Workout time! At Wilson Center. The gym is outstanding, and so are other sports venues. I could not catch the group fitness class or rock climbing class, but I will make it one day. I have to condense my workout to one hour due to 7 more items on today’s to-do list.

10:30 PM. Arrive home. Email time. RSVP for upcoming events including lunch and learn opportunities and casual chats with second-years.

11:00 PM. Study time. Read the case for tomorrow’s team meeting for Strategy class. What, craft beer industry? No idea again, which indicates more learning. Reading speed has increased from 6-8 minutes/page to 3-4 minutes/page, so I can easily finish reading a case within an hour now. I glance at the lecture notes for tomorrow’s Finance class. I should also go through some problem sets for the coming mid-term exam, but … let me leave it for tomorrow.

12:00 AM. Check tomorrow’s calendar: no class (it’s Wednesday!) Duke Energy Conference, some coffee chats with alumni, a team meeting, an appointment with my Language Institute instructor, a corporate event, choir at Duke Chapel, and a Bowling Mixer! Ok, time to get some rest now …